Online Learning Concerns

As we go into the school year, I feel overwhelmed with how to monitor my daughters online activity. At the end of the school year she had found so many ways to get around Bark. First, by using google drive to communicate with peers. Then to setting up a new instagram account via web browser by using an old device she hooked up to wifi. How are you keeping your kids safe despite the motivation to find a way around these parental controls?

Hi, @jdabarnes23! I think many of us parents join you in feeling overwhelmed with the upcoming online school and uncertainty! :confused:

Bark is able to monitor Google Drive– so long as you have her account connected to Bark for monitoring!

As long as the web browser was being monitored by Bark, it would alert you to any concerning searches or visits there too. Not knowing more about your connections or specific accounts, it is difficult for me to give more specific information on this, however if you write in to our support team they would be able to best help with your connections and ensure all is in place, as well as explain any features and answer questions. :slight_smile:

That said, there’s never going to be anything 100% fool-proof; there’s no service or parental restrictions that can 100% stop a determined child. They can find ways to use friends’ devices, get on a public or neighbor’s WiFi, connect to hotspots, etc. Heck, this girl figured out how to tweet from her smart fridge when she was grounded from tech! Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Every family is definitely different – even siblings can be total opposites, I know!-- so this may not be ideal or perhaps you’ve already tried these suggestions:

  • Talking to her about using Bark, how it respects her privacy, and helps to keep her safer
  • Having her agree to and sign your family’s tech rules contract, complete with consequences if not adhered to
  • Perhaps compromise somewhere in the middle. Some parents have found that limits and complete blocking cause their kids to rebel more. Would you be ok agreeing with a social media, but perhaps having it on your device for her use when you are together in the kitchen? Maybe you could work out a creative compromise like that. Not sure how old your daughter is…
  • Have you tried watching some documentaries or videos together, or anything else that explains why you are so concerned about online dangers? Perhaps if she better understood your underlying concerns, she could then agree to your established guidelines and there could be a happy medium?

I sincerely do hope that you find a path that works for your family, and if there’s anything the Bark team can help you with regarding your Bark account, settings, or device safety, we’re more than happy to if you’d please connect at bark.us/contact. :yellow_heart:

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Thank you for the advice. My daughter is 14. I have been very open about the dangers of online use. Unfortunately, she made some very poor choices in the spring. This included compromising pictures and abusive and manipulative communication with a boyfriend which resulted in her sneaking in this boyfriend. There was also involvement with drugs and criminal behavior.
I do plan on doing the contract. What I am wondering is whether there is a device that may be best to help me monitor her. Additionally, online schooling has presented the new issue of being on a device when I am at work. To complicate this, my job is not one where I can take a few minutes to “check in” with her.
I had tried to re-introduce a phone with her about 2 weeks ago and learned that she had already found another way to communicate with the boyfriend.

:frowning: that does sound tough. I know this isn’t easy, hang in there. I’m sure you’re doing the best you can.

What devices does she have?

We can try and make those as safe as possible, but again- if she’s finding access to other devices, there’s really not a way to prevent that other than playing “whack-a-mole” and catching her then addressing / reacting. :frowning:

I use three platforms. Bark (to see inappropriate phone habits), family link (to lock the phone down and block apps and controls), and my router to shut off WiFi at night (when they should be sleeping and when they’re grounded).
After doing all this, they still get around these efforts I make by simply having a friend live video chat porn for them.
It’s ridiculous really.

We use a 3 tier approach as well. Bark for monitoring, Disney Circle for securing WiFi, and Apple screen time to secure my kids devices (iPhones, MacBooks, and iPads).

We also use parental controls on Netflix and Apple TV.

It’s a lot of work to keep everything updated and working. I (dad) and in charge of the network and updates. My wife (mom) is in charge of checking up on all notifications and reviewing Bark!

Gotta keep on top of it all to make sure my teenagers are not breaking our rules. We also communicate with our kids when things go wrong.

Good luck!